3DPI.TV – Portable 3D Printed Drones for Hikers

For the rugged, outdoorsy type, navigating rough mountain trails can sometimes prove difficult when an obvious trail is obscured by boulders, trees, and hilltops. With a rugged and portable drone, however, an aerial view of the path ahead could give hikers a leg up on Mother Nature. This is what the makers of Backcountry Drones realized while hiking through the wilderness surrounding Granite Mountain in Prescott, Arizona.

Backcountry Drones is in the process of developing a drone, dubbed First Ascent, ideal for backpackers and the like to capture quick photos of hiking trails and they’ve made significant progress. With just two motors and speed controllers, the Backcountry Drone prototype, a bit smaller than a Nalgene water bottle, features foldable propellers and a tough 3D printed exterior, perfect for portability. It’s been designed to be hand launched and to run autonomously.

The next step for Backcountry Drones is to optimize the device’s size, through a combination of 3D printed and composite parts. The startup also hopes to pre-program the drone with a few different missions. Then, with six to eight more months, First Ascent would be mass produced with injection molding using impact resistant plastics and a mobile app would allow users to create custom missions, dictate hazards to the drone, access flight data, and manual control of the device. They also hope to make it possible to swap out the type of camera that might be housed in the First Ascent drone.